Drift Indy Street League Volume 9 threw drivers, spectators and staff some real curveballs. Through it all, though, we managed a stylish, competitive event.
After a weekend of crazy weather swings, tricky track conditions and a different-looking top 32, three of DISL’s most consistent rippers climbed the podium steps.
Clint Stotts and his Team Shade NA Miata finished first, getting the nod over DISL Vol. 8 winner Vance Kearns in his Bobby’s Crew blue E36 who took the silver. Alek Morelock secured the bronze after a run of tough battles.
Clint Stotts with the gold, Vance Kearns with the silver and Alek Morelock with the bronze.
All three drivers earned those spots as they battled through the field of 32. It was something of a strange weekend, but DISL still managed to deliver on its promises of sick driving, stylish cars and a hell of a lot of fun.
Before DISL practice got underway, Thursday evening and Friday morning Drift Indy was fortunate enough to play host to Formula Drift driver Chelsea DeNofa for a classroom sesh and on-track lesson. By most accounts, the classroom portion was really helpful. Chelsea brings a huge reserve of technical knowledge on top of a vast, and I mean really vast, amount of drifting experience.
He’s been there for so many of the hallmark moments and eras in US drifting and he’s been behind the wheel of I don’t even know how many different chassis at I don’t know how many tracks.
Getting to the point, coming off that clinic hopefully gave the DISL drivers who were accepted a little bit more confidence in their driving and agency to make small tweaks to their setup to make them more competitive. We did, unfortunately, see Huyjohn Quach blow his transmission during the clinic, knocking him out of the comp on Saturday.
Once practice on Friday got underway, it became pretty evident which drivers were feeling it.
This was from practice on Friday. Practice! And the eventual podium finishers were already throwing down like this. Wild.
Speaking to other media dudes and other staff members, it became pretty evident that a lot of us felt like Clint Stotts had more than an excellent chance of finding his way to the podium, as long as he kept his Miata out of the wall. DISL Volume 8 winner Vance Kearns was shredding all through practice Friday and Saturday, too. We’ve never seen a two-time gold from any of our DISL drivers, yet alone back-to-back golds, but Vance was really making the case that it may very well be possible.
One of the aforementioned curveballs, perhaps the curviest, was the weather Saturday. The downpour affected practice a little bit, but anyone who drives or spectates DISL knows there’s more than enough time to get plenty of practice laps in. What got really messed up by the rain was prelims. The first third or so of the prelim grid had to deal with a cold, wet track complete with puddles and mud in spots. Then, by the time we were down to the last 15 or 20 drivers, the track was dry in spots and still soaked in others.
The decision to push through the rain and wet track to get prelims on the go was made because the radar showed another, larger front coming through around 5 o’clock. With the luau and Volume 10 coming up, a reschedule wasn’t really possible.
A lot of drivers struggled to complete a lap after being tossed out onto a slick, cold track after driving on a hot, dry track for most of practice. With prelims complete, though, the top 32 finally got underway on a mostly dry track.
The first rounds of the main event produced some pretty interesting battles. We saw Drift Indy OG and FD-licensed driver Mike Feiock go up against DISL regular and Bobby’s Crew member Ryan LaVerse. Mike had been battling some clutch slippage throughout the day, but he managed to power through it and advance to the next round.
Another notable one was the rematch between Roy Outcalt and David Whelen. Their initial battle and subsequent OMTs in Volume 8 were a hell of a lot of fun to watch, and although this one wasn’t as tight a battle, it was great to see these two go head-to-head again.
Roy got the nod, matching him up against DISL Vol. 8 winner Vance Kearns in the top 16.
Just some good Bimmer-on-Bimmer action!
Overall, the top 32 didn’t really produce many big surprises. We did, however, see Justin Keith, the 29th seed, knock out 4th seed and Vol. 1 winner Kyle Robertson.
Moving into the top 16 and beyond, we got to witness some real heavyweight battles. Alek Morelock and Seth St. Myers threw down in a battle of the Zs that went to a OMT, Vance Kearns knocked out Joey Ritter in the top 8 and Clint Stotts put on a show as he eliminated Cory Misko in the top 16 and top-seeded king of DISL Colten Terrell in the top 8 after an exciting OMT.
This time around Clint's balls-to-the-wall driving style conquered Colty's remarkable consistency.
Down to the final 4, Clint Stotts and Alek Morelock were matched up on one side with Vance Kearns and Josh Estey set to go head-to-head on the other.
Clint and Alek both had been shredding all weekend, throwing down super consistent runs throughout both practice and the main event. It was a tight battle, but Clint just managed to open up a little distance in his lead run that was enough to give him the nod and send him to the final battle.
Anytime two teammates or dudes that turn a lot of laps together get matched up, it promises to be a real treat for the spectators. In the “Bobby Battle” (as Edgar put it) on the other side of the bracket, Vance and Josh didn’t hold back. Vance kept it on Josh’s door in the chase and then managed to open up quite a bit of space on his teammate in his lead run, sending himself through to the final battle.
See what I mean? Watching teammates duke it out never gets old.
Like I mentioned before, DISL has never seen back-to-back first place finishes, but Vol. 9 came pretty close. In his lead run, Vance Kearns chucked it in just a hair too aggressively on the initiation, clipping the wall and straightening. Clint managed to stay in drift and completed a solid follow run. Swapping places for the second run, Clint threw down an excellent lead with Vance sticking to his door. That little bump and straighten was enough to give Clint the gold, though.
This picture's actually from practice on Friday, but still a damn good illustration of the level of driving our gold and silver medalists showed all weekend. Practice! Wild again.
With Alek Morelock beating out Josh Estey for third, we ended up with a podium full of some of DISL’s most consistent and aggressive drivers. They each brought style and skill to the track and rode them all the way to some hardware. It was a weird one, but DISL has yet to disappoint.
Next up, DISL’s traveling to some virgin, un-drifted real estate down in Corbin, KY for Volume 10. I, for one, can’t wait to see what our drivers can do with a new location to close out this era of Drift Indy Street League.